I just got back from spending a week in Toronto, during the NXNE festival. In all honesty, I was mostly just there because they gave the radio station a bunch of free passes, and I just wanted to hang out in Toronto with some of my friends for a week, especially since one of them just told me she’s leaving Ann Arbor soon. Musically, there wasn’t a whole lot I was interested in; there wasn’t a whole lot of experimental music, or non-douche dance music for that matter. The Flaming Lips played a free show in the middle of the city (and somehow we ended up scoring a room in a condo 2 blocks away), and they were as fun and crazy as always. Grass Widow was cool, but they weren’t as tight as when I saw them last year at the MOCAD in Detroit opening for the Raincoats. Purity Ring was surprisingly good, and the crowd was absolutely packed, but it was 1 AM and being on a normal work-week sleeping schedule, I just felt like a zombie (which was sort of appropriate for the music). I was looking forward to seeing John Maus again, but I decided to take a nap beforehand to avoid feeling like a zombie again, and then I ended up sleeping through the show.
The set that I was most excited by, however, was Eternal Summers. I’d heard “On My Honor” from their split 7″ with Super Vacations last year and I really liked that song, so I was expecting more of a mellow dream-pop set. Not only did they not play that song, they didn’t play anything that sounded like that song either. Everything they played was faster, tighter, higher energy, and just better. It was just a really great set of C86-ish indie-pop/post-punk, which I honestly thought was way better than much of Slumberland’s current roster (Veronica Falls excepted). There was a definite Smiths/Joy Division influence, especially when the male half of the band (Daniel Cundiff) sings, but it did not feel overtly derivative in any way. It was just an incredibly great set and I was so glad I ended up walking way out of my way to see it. However, I wasn’t glad that I limited the amout of cash I brought with me so I wouldn’t overspend, and that I ate at a very disappointing restaurant right before the show, because then I couldn’t pick up all the records the band was selling after the show. What I did pick up, however, was the Super Vacations split 7″, as well as The Dawn Of Eternal Summers, a vinyl/digital-only release of a bunch of tracks previously released on EPs and compilations. Most of the songs they played live were from their new album which comes out next month (and I’m sure you’ll probably be hearing a lot about), but these older tracks are a little more in line with what I was expecting before I saw them. More midtempo songs and closer to dream-pop, but still in the spirit of lo-fi post-punk. The second side features covers of Guided By Voices, The Lemonheads and Neil Young, pointing to some more influences who are emulated but not ripped off. Overall, this LP is a really decent collection of tracks, and makes for a good catch-up to this band, as well as an additional anticipation-builder for their upcoming album.